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Despite rising rates ‘it’s still a really great time to buy a home’: UWM COO

In this article:
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Melinda Wilner, United Wholesale Mortgage COO, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the effects of rising rates and competition in the mortgage market.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: Last hour we talked about the housing market from the perspective of a home builder. Now let's talk about it through the eyes of a mortgage originator. Melinda Wilner is joining us now. She's United Wholesale Mortgage Chief Operating Officer.

And Melinda, what we talked about with the CEO of Taylor Morrison just a little while ago is the effect that rising rates are having on the market. And for now, she said, it's not necessarily having an effect on demand, at least not a negative one. I'm curious what you're seeing on your end and what's happening with rates.

MELINDA WILNER: Yeah, similar thing as well. They are ticking up, but still a great opportunity. There's still a lot of refinances to be done. And certainly there's a lot of purchases to happen, too, so still a really, really great time to buy a home. But again, there's a lot of refinances still out there, even with ticking up rates.

BRIAN SOZZI: Melinda, at what level on the 10-year would you get concerned that the housing market this year would look pretty-- would look a lot different than it did last year?

MELINDA WILNER: You know, it's really hard to say. Last year was such an odd year, even with the inventory issues with purchases. It's hard to say where that will tick. Obviously, refinances will hit a point where less people are in the money as rates go up. But still if you look over the grand scope-- this is my 20th year in the business, you look over the grand scope of things, it's really still a great time to buy a house. So we're really, really excited for that purchase season that's about to start this spring.

JULIE HYMAN: And certainly have some underlying other things going on in terms of demand that we've talked a lot about in terms of migration, either triggered by or just acting as a catalyst from the coronavirus. Something else I want to ask you about, Melinda, is the competition that's happening in the mortgage market right now between you and some of your rivals like Rocket. And-- and hopefully you can explain this to me because I-- to be honest, I'm a little confused. So you have asked, I believe, some of your mortgage brokers who work with you to exclusively work with you and not to work with Rocket and some of your other rivals. Is that--

MELINDA WILNER: No.

JULIE HYMAN: --no, not the case. You're shaking your head.

MELINDA WILNER: Not quite.

JULIE HYMAN: Explain to me what's happening, because I'm not really understanding what's happening from what I've been reading.

MELINDA WILNER: Yeah, so UWM, for years and years, we've invested in the wholesale community, not just the brokers who do business with us. But it's been a goal of ours, it continues to be a goal of ours to really increase the entire wholesale channel. So what we found is there's a couple of lenders that are really going against that initiative to really grow the channel based on a couple of things that are being done.

So for us what we said is, hey, we're here to help you grow. We invest billions of dollars in technology. We invest training. We invest helping to recruit. We invest in helping grow your business. Well, there's a couple lenders out there in the wholesale world that work directly against that.

So-- so really, all we said is hey, if you work with them, you can't work with us. There's about 75 wholesale lenders out there all together, so it's by no means is it, hey, you can only exclusively work with UWM. It's you can either work with UWM and the other 75 lenders out there, or you can choose the other guys and the other 75 lenders out there.

BRIAN SOZZI: When you say working against, what are some of these lenders doing? Are they undertaking unsavory business practices? Are they discounting? What are you seeing?

MELINDA WILNER: A couple of things we're seeing. So the recruiting-- kind of substantial recruiting of wholesale loan officers to go into the retail world, which would obviously have an impact on the wholesale business that we can do. But the second one, I think, is even more critical to the wholesale channel. For years and years, brokers have relied on and done a very good job of servicing clients from realtors, from financial planners, like truly the bread and butter.

And brokers have done a fantastic job in the purchase world. So as springtime purchase comes, brokers really, really dominate that. So what's been happening is a lender out there is saying, hey to the realtors, come directly, cut out that wholesale loan officer in the middle, and come directly and we'll take care of your client, which will have a big sacrifice, a big hit on that wholesale channel with mortgage brokers.

JULIE HYMAN: Gotcha. Melinda, thank you for clarifying all of this for us. Melinda Wilner is United Wholesale Mortgage COO. Good to catch up with you. Appreciate it.